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An Entrepre-neur's Guide To Success: Expert Series: Cyber pandemic makes good data hygiene practices an imperative

 

Expert Series: Cyber pandemic makes good data hygiene practices an imperative





An Entrepre-neur's Guide To Success: Expert Series: Cyber pandemic makes good data hygiene practices an imperative

Expert Series: Cyber pandemic makes good data hygiene practices an imperative

(BPT) - By Christopher Rence, President and CEO of Rimage

The COVID-19 pandemic may be winding down in the U.S. thanks to widespread vaccine rollout. But there is an ongoing cyber pandemic that shows no signs of stopping, forcing global leaders to take note, as acknowledged most recently in an “Executive Order on Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity,” issued by the White House in early May.

Since the start of the pandemic, there has been a 400% increase in the number of cyberattacks on businesses around the world. The slew of recent attacks on major U.S. water and energy supply systems is impacting organizations seeking cyber liability insurance and finding prices rising and underwriting standards tightening as carriers require more robust data security measures. The cyber pandemic is also hitting the pocketbooks of consumers and adding risk to their already overstressed lives. And as more employees begin to return to office environments, it creates a new front in the war against cybercriminals. Business leaders should use this transition period as an opportunity to re-evaluate cybersecurity tools and policies and implement new strategies that prioritize layers of security protection.

The “new normal” presents new risk

In the “new normal,” organizations must shift from a “work from home” cybersecurity strategy to one designed for a hybrid model. The hybrid model introduces new challenges: people will now be coming into the building and plugging into the system with an endpoint that, days earlier, might have been used by a child to play games or do homework. If that child inadvertently picked up a virus, employees will be introducing that compromised endpoint into their company’s digital environment. This is why it’s critical for organizations to not only train employees on the importance of good data hygiene practices but also introduce new technology tools to increase security protection.

Improve cybersecurity hygiene

Preventative measures can protect our data in the same way we learned to protect ourselves against COVID-19. Here’s a quick comparison of biological and cyber practices that helped slow the spread of COVID-19 and can now help ameliorate the effects of the cyber pandemic:

  • Communication with employees about data security practices is vital and akin to the public information campaigns about COVID-19 prevention. Leaders need to educate employees on the risks and empower them as a critical part of cybersecurity protections.
  • Using routers and firewalls provides an initial layer of protection that can be likened to hand washing to prevent the spread of the disease. Security tools need to be updated continuously against new and emerging threats.
  • Role-based authentication and user policies are like social distancing in that they restrict individuals from getting in contact with sensitive data.
  • Instituting strong password practices is a user-level protective measure that requires individual commitment and discipline similar to wearing a mask. With so much happening in the world, it’s hard for many people to care about things like changing passwords regularly. So, strong and repeated education is needed to communicate the value and importance of these kinds of simple measures.
  • Ultimately a strong data security software stack, including removable storage, will act as a COVID-19 vaccine, providing the strongest defense against cyberattacks. Removeable storage allows IT professionals to reset systems to a specific point in time without losing key data and can provide the fastest recovery time following a system incursion.

Just as with the biological pandemic, no one measure alone will fully protect businesses from cyberattacks. But by layering these protocols on top of each other, leaders can build a cybersecurity defense that provides the best possible protection against bad actors. And it’s not just customers and regulators who are demanding stronger security measures. Carriers that offer cyber liability insurance have been tightening their underwriting standards and raising prices, and their guidelines are likely to get more stringent and specific as losses from cyberattacks mount.

Think globally

The U.S. is outpacing much of the world in terms of vaccine rollout. That means that as optimistic as the outlook is here, people in other parts of the world still face widespread restrictions that may impact risk factors. When devising cybersecurity strategies, business leaders need to consider their partners around the world. If a team was granted access to network systems to better facilitate collaboration, it’s important to make sure security systems are accounting for outside users. If access to those systems is no longer necessary, revoke it. Closing holes in system defenses after the fact is just as important as initiating strong protective measures in the first place.

A layered approach provides the best defense

The best strategy for cybersecurity is to use a layered approach that leverages cutting-edge technology while putting particular emphasis on the human element of cyber protection. Employee education and communication around policies and procedures will be just as critical as the individual security systems put in place. By taking a holistic approach to cybersecurity, business leaders can guard their organizations against risk and be better positioned for success in the new normal.

Christopher Rence is President and CEO of Rimage, with more than 25 years of success spanning global compliance, software and cloud technology, security, telecommunications, e-commerce, and financial services.

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